Catherine and Sophie, La Méduse (Iles de la Madeleine, Canada)

Catherine et Sophie

Thus, his privileged encounter of the visitors and the craftsmen lead to beautiful exchanges throughout the courses, in the sharing of knowledge.

– How would you introduce la Méduse?

For two generations, La Méduse has been a public glass blowing workshop located in the Îles-de-la-Madeleine, a magnificent little archipelago, right in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence (Quebec, Canada). The oldest blown glass workshop in Canada, La Méduse has always been committed to the transmission of its know-how and wishes to perpetuate the work of hand-blown glass in an original, creative way, in a pleasant atmosphere accessible to all!

For 35 years, at La Méduse, we have been creating pieces of glass in front of people passing through our shop. Our workshop has a bay window and visitors can watch the craftsmanship in front of their eyes, all year long. All the pieces of glass offered in our shop are created by hand, one by one, handcrafted in the workshop attached to our boutique.

At the heart of our corporate values, ​​we have always put the quality of craftsmanship and the sharing of our knowledge with visitors. That’s why our workshop has always been open to the public. By working the glass in front of people, we want them to be able to appreciate our work, to understand the craftsmanship and to make the difference between the glass made in industry and the craftsmanship.

It is in this same spirit of sharing that we have set up glass initiation courses so that people “live” our profession, see for themselves the reality of blown glass and understand its challenges and requirements.

It is certain that the courses were developed with the aim of seeking monetary spin-offs, but we also aimed to share our creative world differently with the curious of the glass by allowing them to immerse themselves in the wonderful world of glassblowing, through a short creative immersion … no matter how old or how daring!

– What does your creative tourism offer consist of? 

Our creative tourism development has been to set up a blowing glass initiation course in our workshop, in a safe, accessible and structured way, to allow non-experienced visitors to create their own holiday memories, in a blown glass!

Our workshops give the chance to live a unique experience in the fascinating world of glass. Thus, the curious ones can experience the challenges of mastering molten glass and live, for an hour, the reality of workshop work, in the warm furnaces of La Méduse.

Gradually, apprentices glassblowers are led to shape the glass, play with it and tame it to complete the workshop by blowing themselves a decorative glass ball in the colors of their choice. It is a privileged experience in small groups (2-4 people) that people can live with us, in the heart of our blown glass workshop, in the enchanting setting of the Magdalen Islands.

– What is the added-value of your project in terms of innovation and authenticity ?

Our experience of creative tourism is very original. In general, because of the potential risks of blown glass workshops (fire, molten glass at 1300 degrees Celsius, risk of injury, heat, etc.), they are very few willing to open their doors to visitors. Knowing that people want more and more original and creative experiences during their stays, we have reorganized our working environment to allow these interested and friendly people to discover our profession from the inside.

At the same time, our courses allow people to really experience glass work by creating two successful glass pieces. As the only “accessible-to-public” blown glass shop in the islands, we try to take advantage of this unique aspect for the customer. Moreover, as we are the second generation of glassblowers at La Méduse, which makes us one of the oldest glass workshops in Canada, the courses we give allow us to meet visitors and to have a special moment with them, to share our know-how in the context of our workshop. This makes our activity/experience really authentic for people. This authenticity lies in several elements: the type of offer and the personalization of the experience, the meeting with the craftsmen and co-owners of La Méduse and the knowledge sharing.

Catherine and Sophie, co-owners and both glassblowers are those who give introductory courses to blown glass. They bring in their workshop small groups of 2 to 4 people maximum and assist them in the creation of two pieces of glass. Thus this privileged encounter of the visitors and the craftsmen lead to beautiful exchanges throughout the courses, in the sharing of knowledge. Catherine and Sophie are always sensitive to those who have chosen to do the course and they adapt their way to give the course tailored to the skills and level of ease / difficulty of people. With a good dose of pedagogy and good humor, they always manage to make pretty and colorful achievements with the apprentices!

– Who are the visitors who participate in your activities?

Our target markets are Quebec visitors, the main tourist clientele on the Magdalen Islands. We are also in the process of offering our courses to some international cruises with small groups of visitors interested in an experience during their stay in the Islands.

On the other hand, as we give classes in both English and French, we are ready to give lessons to anyone interested in glass, no matter where they come from.

 In which way do your project benefit to the locals?

Our courses being offered to both visitors and Madelinots, they allowed people from the community to rediscover our company with the courses of blown glass. By sharing their experience on social networks and elsewhere, it has also allowed us to continue to better publicize the reality of our work and to continue to sensitize local people and visitors to the learning of craftwork. We also offer our courses to small businesses and training groups who want to give an experience to their teams in order to strengthen group cohesion, through a creative activity.

The courses also allowed us to take part, in a creative way to the promotion of the destination, by making partnerships with the actors of the promotion of the community and the region such as “Tourism Iles de la Madeleine”. The initiative to develop an experiential offer has also led us to work with other local companies developing other experiences, and thus make a network of creative offers in the local tourism. The experiential tourism pilot project also finally allowed us to join the Creative Tourism Network together, which helps Magdalen Islands community’s creativity to be known abroad.

Finally, the local community is involved in our course project at the level of participating in the experience we offer. We know that since our experiential offer exists, several other companies have chosen to develop different experiential offerings in their respective environments. It is also as ambassadors of experiential tourism that we act in our community.

– What is your definition of creative tourism?

Creative tourism is for us a meeting between an artist / craftsman and an interested person, through an experience, in the sharing of knowledge and culture!

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